Free Dictionary

Free Dictionary

Home ×
Link Link Link Link

Search Result for "subtle": 
Wordnet 3.0

ADJECTIVE (3)

1. difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze;
- Example: "his whole attitude had undergone a subtle change"
- Example: "a subtle difference"
- Example: "that elusive thing the soul"
[syn: elusive, subtle]

2. able to make fine distinctions;
- Example: "a subtle mind"

3. working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way;
- Example: "glaucoma is an insidious disease"
- Example: "a subtle poison"
[syn: insidious, pernicious, subtle]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Subtile \Sub"tile\, a. [L. subtilis. See Subtile.] 1. Thin; not dense or gross; rare; as, subtile air; subtile vapor; a subtile medium. [1913 Webster] 2. Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine; delicate; tenuous; finely woven. "A sotil [subtile] twine's thread." --Chaucer. [1913 Webster] More subtile web Arachne can not spin. --Spenser. [1913 Webster] I do distinguish plain Each subtile line of her immortal face. --Sir J. Davies. [1913 Webster] 3. Acute; piercing; searching. [1913 Webster] The slow disease and subtile pain. --Prior. [1913 Webster] 5. Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning; delicate; refined; subtle. [In this sense now commonly written subtle.] [1913 Webster] The genius of the Spanish people is exquisitely subtile, without being at all acute; hence there is so much humor and so little wit in their literature. The genius of the Italians, on the contrary, is acute, profound, and sensual, but not subtile; hence what they think to be humorous, is merely witty. --Coleridge. [1913 Webster] The subtile influence of an intellect like Emerson's. --Hawthorne. [1913 Webster] 5. Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle; as, a subtile person; a subtile adversary; a subtile scheme. [In this sense now commonly written subtle.] [1913 Webster] Syn: Subtile, Acute. Usage: In acute the image is that of a needle's point; in subtile that of a thread spun out to fineness. The acute intellect pierces to its aim; the subtile (or subtle) intellect winds its way through obstacles. [1913 Webster] -- Sub"tile*ly, adv. -- Sub"tile*ness, n. [1913 Webster]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Subtle \Sub"tle\, a. [Compar. Subtler; superl. Subtlest.] [OE. sotil, subtil, OF. soutil, later subtil, F. subtil, L. subtilis; probably, originally, woven fine, and fr. sub under + tela a web, fr. texere to weave. See Text, and cf. Subtile.] 1. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; -- applied to persons; as, a subtle foe. "A subtle traitor." --Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem. [1913 Webster] 3. Characterized by refinement and niceness in drawing distinctions; nicely discriminating; -- said of persons; as, a subtle logician; refined; tenuous; sinuous; insinuating; hence, penetrative or pervasive; -- said of the mind; its faculties, or its operations; as, a subtle intellect; a subtle imagination; a subtle process of thought; also, difficult of apprehension; elusive. [1913 Webster] Things remote from use, obscure and subtle. --Milton. [1913 Webster] 4. Smooth and deceptive. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground [bowling ground]. --Shak. [1913 Webster] Syn: Artful; crafty; cunning; shrewd; sly; wily. Usage: Subtle is the most comprehensive of these epithets and implies the finest intellectual quality. See Shrewd, and Cunning. [1913 Webster]
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):

subtle adj 1: difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze; "his whole attitude had undergone a subtle change"; "a subtle difference"; "that elusive thing the soul" [syn: elusive, subtle] 2: able to make fine distinctions; "a subtle mind" 3: working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way; "glaucoma is an insidious disease"; "a subtle poison" [syn: insidious, pernicious, subtle]
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:

288 Moby Thesaurus words for "subtle": Byzantine, Machiavellian, Machiavellic, abstruse, accurate, acute, adulterated, air-built, airy, analytic, analytical, appreciative, arcane, arch, artful, astute, attentive, attenuate, attenuated, balled up, boyish, cagey, calculating, canny, casuistic, chimerical, civilized, clever, close, cloud-built, complex, complicated, concealed, confounded, confused, conscientious, constant, convoluted, correct, crabbed, crafty, creamy, critical, cultivated, cultured, cunning, cut, cute, daedal, dainty, deceitful, deceptive, deep, deep-laid, delicate, demanding, designing, detailed, devious, dexterous, diaphanous, differential, dilute, diluted, diplomatic, direct, discriminate, discriminating, discriminative, distinctive, distinguishing, dreamlike, eggshell, elaborate, elegant, elusive, embrangled, entangled, ethereal, even, exact, exacting, exigent, express, exquisite, faint, faithful, fanciful, fastidious, fatuitous, fatuous, feline, fine, fine-drawn, finespun, finical, finicking, finicky, flat, flimsy, fouled up, foxy, frail, fussy, gaseous, gauzy, girlish, gloss, gossamer, gossamery, graceful, gracile, gracious, guileful, hairline, hairsplitting, hidden, illusory, imaginary, implicated, inerrable, inerrant, infallible, ingenious, insidious, insubstantial, intricate, inventive, involuted, involved, iridescent, knotted, knowing, labyrinthian, labyrinthine, lacy, light, loused up, many-faceted, mathematical, matted, mazy, meandering, mellow, messed up, meticulous, micrometrically precise, microscopic, minute, misty, mixed up, mother-of-pearl, mucked up, multifarious, nacreous, narrow, nebulous, nice, obscure, opalescent, pale, papery, particular, pastel, patinaed, pawky, pearly, perplexed, phantomlike, pinpoint, polished, politic, precise, precisianistic, precisionistic, profound, punctilious, punctual, quiet, ramified, rare, rarefied, ratiocinative, ready, recondite, refined, religious, religiously exact, remote, resourceful, rigid, rigorous, roundabout, sad, scheming, scientific, scientifically exact, screwed up, scrupulous, scrutinizing, selective, semigloss, sensitive, serpentine, severe, shadowy, sharp, shifty, shrewd, simple, skillful, slender, slenderish, slick, slight, slight-made, slim, slimmish, slimy, slinky, slippery, sly, small, smarmy, smart, smooth, snaky, snarled, sneaky, sober, soft, soft-colored, soft-hued, softened, somber, sophistical, sophisticated, spirituous, square, stealthy, strategic, strict, subdued, subtile, supple, svelte, sweet, sylphlike, tactful, tactical, tangled, tangly, tender, tenuous, thin, thin-bodied, thin-set, thin-spun, thinned, thinned-out, thinnish, threadlike, trickish, tricksy, tricky, twisted, uncompact, uncompressed, underhanded, undeviating, unerring, unreal, unsubstantial, vague, vaporous, veiled, vulpine, wary, wasp-waisted, watered, watered-down, watery, weak, willowy, wily, windy, wiredrawn, wispy